In the early to mid 1980’s an area of the railway that intersected the Corduroy Brook was alive with beaver activity. As beavers do, they began to plug the culverts to stop the flow of water. As a result, a significant area of wetland was created that was ideal for aquatic habitat, particularly for waterfowl and small marshland animals. However, battle began between the beavers and the railway workers who diligently cleaned out the culverts thus draining the wetland habitat.
The valuable habitat was created and lost numerous times before the railway was shut down for good in 1985. With no workers left to clear the culverts, the wetland habitat was created and remained. The area became a popular destination for some residents who used it for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities. This was the situation up until 1995 when a major washout of the T’railway occurred and the habitat was lost once more.
At that time, the CBEA recognized the negative impact created by the loss of habitat. The association began to make plans to replace the existing culverts in an attempt to restore the habitat again. Plans were drawn up for the project, the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor was enlisted for support, and $15,000 was secured towards the work ($12,000 from Environment Canada & $3,000 from Human Resources Development Canada).
Just before project work was scheduled to commence, Ducks Unlimited were contacted with a solicitation for potential project support. The well known organization sent a representative to view the site, and to conduct further field investigations gathering information about local flora and fauna. Following the visit and after further communication Ducks Unlimited agreed to come on board. Typically Ducks Unlimited are focused on the restoration of habitat that has the potential to produce a large number of ducks. However, in this case it was a different reason that secured their support. The organization decided to support the project not for its potential to produce large numbers of ducks in the future (though there obviously was some potential for that), but rather they were taken by the fact that the area was so close to the community and could be an invaluable educational opportunity for all citizens and visitors, particularly school children.
Ducks Unlimited have carried out hundreds of similar projects all across North America and are considered experts in the process of constructing and implementing water control structures, or what are commonly referred to as Fishways. Because of this, the CBEA plans were scrapped and a new set of plans were developed by Ducks Unlimited.
Not only did Ducks Unlimited provide the plans, but they also sent a construction supervisor to oversee the project, and they also picked up the tab for the additional costs. The total cost of the project was $52,000 with $15,000 coming from CBEA funding partners and the other $37,000 being covered by Ducks Unlimited. In the fall of 1998 the concrete structure was built and in the spring of 1999 the Fishway baffles (ladder rungs) were installed. As a result of construction, approximately 8 hectares of wetland had been restored, and the water control structure ensured a suitable water depth most appropriate for waterfowl habitat.
One thing that Ducks Unlimited did insist on was that the area restored be protected from any future development that could potentially compromise the integrity of the marsh. In the July, 1998 the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador got together for the signing of a Municipal Stewardship Agreement, proclaiming the area protected from any future development.